With school starting, Clothes for Kids opens for business

LYNNWOOD — Jeans, new underwear, shoes, coats and more are needed by a group that has been outfitting children for school since the 1980s.

Clothes For Kids began with an Edmonds School District classroom-turned-clothing closet set up by a Parent Teacher Student Association group. By 1984, it was an established nonprofit organization.

On Aug. 24, Clothes For Kids opened for its 32nd year of providing free school wardrobes to students from low-income families. As of Wednesday, 657 kids had come through the doors since opening day.

“Kids want to come and try on clothes, and we want them to,” said Nancy Laird Burris, the agency’s program manager. “We want it to be a family shopping experience. For many of our families, other than Goodwill or Value Village, this is the only store they can go to.”

A family needing help from Clothes For Kids must get a requisition for clothing from their school office. Students from schools all over Snohomish County are eligible for clothing if they qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Clothes For Kids is open from mid-August through mid-February each year.

Most students are helped between mid-August and the end of September.

“In October, we pick up Head Start children, 3- and 4-year-olds. In the winter, it’s more families moving to the area, or families whose situations have changed and they need assistance,” Laird Burris said.

During the past academic year, 3,170 students were helped, she said. The goal is to give every boy three pairs of jeans or long pants, and every girl two pairs of long pants or jeans, one skirt and one dress.

“In addition, every student should have access to a warm winter coat, four pairs of new underwear, four pairs of new socks and one pair of shoes,” she said.

With all of that going out, Clothes For Kids needs donations coming in. Students being helped range in age from preschool through high school seniors. Especially needed are new or gently used jeans in all sizes, new boys’ underwear, and boys’ shoes, Laird Burris said.

She hopes church groups and other organizations will consider holding clothing drives to benefit Clothes for Kids.

“The majority of our families are working families. Mom is working, Dad is working, but the cost of living here is so high,” Laird Burris said. “Some of them have to make the decision, are they going to pay their car insurance or buy school clothes?”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Clothes For Kids

The nonprofit Clothes For Kids provides school clothes to Snohomish County students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. Donations may be brought year-round to a bin at the facility’s back door, 16725 52nd Ave. W., Suite B, Lynnwood. For a donation receipt, bring items to the back door between 9 a.m. and noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Information: www.clothesforkids.org or call 425-741-6500.

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